Better method for predicting sunspots: study
Sunday 21 August 2011
Scientists said Thursday they can now better predict when sunspots will erupt, offering earlier warning of magnetic disruptions that can cut power and interrupt communications on Earth.
The advance means astronomers will be able to know a day or two in advance when potent sunspots are expected to arise, sharpening the precision of current space weather forecasts, said the study published in the US journal Science.
The new technique could be useful in the coming years, as astronomers study what is expected to be an increase in solar activity around 2012, though some scientists have predicted the solar maximum will be delayed.
The international team of researchers, led by Stanford University physicist Stathis Ilonidis, said data from a joint NASA and European Space Agency project known as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has led to the breakthrough.
Potent energy bursts known as sunspots begin with magnetic fields deep inside the Sun, as many as 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) below the surface, it said.
Doppler observations from the observatory have shown that these forces are "much stronger than previous models had predicted," said the study.
The magnetic forces "travel from the Sun's interior at speeds between 0.19 and 0.37 miles per second (0.3 to 0.6 kilometers per second)."
The new technique allows scientists to see images of big sunspots as they form, and before they appear on the Sun's surface.
"Strong emerging flux events can now be anticipated one to two days in advance," said the study.
Solar activity tends to rise and fall every 11 years or so. The solar maximum and solar minimum each mark about half the interval of the magnetic pole reversal on the Sun, which happens every 22 years.
Solar flares and eruptions can send highly charged particles hurtling toward Earth and interfere with satellite communications, GPS systems and even airline controls.
Geomagnetic forces have been known to occasionally garble the world's modern gadgetry, and warnings were issued as recently as June when a moderate solar flare sent a fiery coronal mass ejection in the Earth's direction.
Malky Mackay allegedly sent texts of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature during his time as manager of Cardiff City.
Life & Style blogs
GTA 5 Online DLC: San Andreas Flight School update brings 16-seater jet plane and more
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
James Foley beheading: Twitter 'actively suspending' accounts sharing graphic imagery
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
'Long Live the Nazis' spaghetti dish sold in Taiwan renamed after backlash
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
- 4 Nicki Minaj 'Anaconda': Singer finally releases predictable video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...